The availability of online resources has boomed in recent years, spurred on by the remote working surge during the pandemic. Some topics are more easily adapted to online than other topics, and lab work can be particularly tricky. That is why I approached the National Institute for Bioprocessing Research (NIBRT) Online Academy (NOA) with some skepticism. Would an online resource really be able to impart enough information about lab topics to be worth the time? The price was right, free! But the course is an hour and a half, and that is a solid chunk of time. I decided to dive in and watch a sample course—and chose Bioreactor Operations because, to be honest, I do not know much about bioreactors so I thought I would be the perfect guinea pig.
The website interface is clean and functional, it was easy to see the big blue enroll button. Enrollment was simple, with a quick email confirmation. When I logged in the site offered up the course I was enrolled in and I dove right in. The website did say that the free enrollment was for 14 days, so there was no time to waste!
The trainer for the course is named Adam, and he is a Senior Bioprocessing trainer at the National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training in Dublin, Ireland, and yes, he does sound Irish.
The course did not disappoint. By the end of the course I indeed knew much more about bioreactors, both how they operate and what are important operating parameters. And I even passed the evaluation and got the certificate. Just in case you were wondering, agitation, dissolved oxygen, pH and temperature and important parameters to keep cells happy and protein production at optimal levels. The course had plenty of interactive quizzes, as well as diagrams which allowed me to click on some part of it and uncover additional knowledge. Embedded videos of agitators or spargers doing their part to keep cells healthy added visual interest and kept things lively (do you know what a sparger is? I didn't until I took the course!).
The only glitch I found was when I finished the course and I wanted to see what other courses I could enroll in, the website would not let me look at "All Courses". It kept showing me "My Courses" with my one, now finished course. If I logged out I could see all the courses, but that seemed to be a pretty clunky way to choose another course. I emailed the help team and really hope they get back to me soon--but this first e-learning course was so interesting that I will definitely try more! One other thing to note, not all of the courses are free, some are 136 euros so keep an eye out for that detail.